Companies - Tax Saving Opportunities
Tax saving opportunities often need to be considered prior to the year end of the company or prior to the tax year end of the individuals who are shareholders or directors of the company.
Due to the ever changing tax legislation and commercial factors affecting your company, it is advisable to carry out an annual review of your company's tax position.
Pre-year end tax planning is important as the current year's results can normally be predicted with some accuracy and time still exists to carry out any appropriate action. We outline below some of the areas where advance planning may produce tax savings.
Expenditure incurred before the company's accounts year end may reduce the current year's tax liability.
In situations where expenditure is planned for early in the next accounting year, the decision to bring forward this expenditure by just a few weeks can advance the related tax relief by a full 12 months.
Examples of the type of expenditure to consider bringing forward include:
- building repairs and redecorating
- advertising and marketing campaigns
- redundancy and closure costs.
Note that payments into company pension schemes are only allowable for tax purposes when the payments are actually made as opposed to when they are charged in the company's accounts.
Consideration should also be given to the timing of capital expenditure on which capital allowances are available to obtain the optimum reliefs.
Single companies irrespective of size are able to claim an Annual Investment Allowance (AIA) which provides 100% relief on expenditure on plant and machinery (excluding cars). The amount of AIA is currently set at £200,000.
Groups of companies have to share the allowance. Expenditure on qualifying plant and machinery in excess of the AIA is eligible for writing down allowance (WDA) of 18%. Where the capital expenditure is incurred on integral features the WDA is 8%.
100% allowances on designated energy saving technologies continue to be available in addition to the AIA. Details can be found at www.gov.uk/guidance/energy-technology-list.
Limited allowances are also available for investments in certain types of building.
Companies incurring trading losses have three main options to consider in utilising these losses:
- they can be set against any other income (for example bank interest) or capital gains arising in the current year
- they can be carried back for up to one year and set against total profits
- they can be carried forward and set against trading profits arising in future years.
More flexibility for losses from April 2017
The government have amended the rules for corporation tax losses to make the tax relief more flexible. When losses arising on or after 1 April 2017 are carried forward, they will be available to be used against profits from different types of income in the company and other group companies.
There is, however, a restriction on the use of carry forward losses where a company’s or group’s profits are above £5 million. Any profits over £5 million arising on or after 1 April 2017 cannot be reduced by more than 50% by brought forward losses. Losses that have arisen at any time are subject to these restrictions.
Directors/shareholders of family companies may wish to consider extracting profits in the form of dividends rather than as increased salaries or bonus payments.
This can lead to substantial savings in national insurance contributions (NICs).
Note however that company profits extracted as a dividend remain chargeable to corporation tax at a minimum of 19% (reducing to 17% from 1 April 2020).
From the company’s point of view, timing of payment is not critical, but from the individual shareholder’s perspective, timing can be an important issue. A dividend payments in excess of the Dividend Allowance which is delayed until after the tax year ending on 5 April may give the shareholder an extra year to pay any further tax due. The Dividend Allowance is £2,000 for 2018/19 (£5,000 2017/18).
The deferral of tax liabilities on the shareholder will be dependent on a number of factors. Please contact us for detailed advice.
Loans to directors and shareholders
If a 'close' company (broadly, one controlled by its directors or by five or fewer shareholders) makes a loan to a shareholder, this can give rise to a tax liability for the company.
If the loan is not settled within nine months of the end of the accounting period, the company is required to make a payment equal to 32.5% (25% for loans made before 6 April 2016) of the loan to HMRC. The money is not repaid to the company until nine months after the end of the accounting period in which the loan is repaid by the shareholder.
A loan to a director may also give rise to a tax liability for the director on the benefit of a loan provided at less than the market rate of interest.
Rates of tax
The main rate of corporation tax is currently 19%. The rate for future years is:
- 19% for the financial Years beginning on 1 April 2018 and 2019
- 17% for the Financial Year beginning on 1 April 2020.
Under the self assessment regime most companies must pay their tax liabilities nine months and one day after the year end.
Companies which pay (or expect to pay) tax at the main rate are required to pay tax under the quarterly accounting system. If you require any further information on the quarterly accounting system, we have a factsheet which summarises the system.
Corporation tax returns must be submitted within twelve months of the year end and are required to be submitted electronically. In cases of delay or inaccuracies, interest and penalties will be charged.
Companies are chargeable to corporation tax on their capital gains less allowable capital losses.
In order to counteract the effects of inflation inherent in the calculation of a capital gain, an indexation allowance is given. However the allowance is not allowed to increase or create a capital loss.
It was announced in the Autumn Budget 2017 that the calculation of indexation allowance will be restricted for disposals of assets on or after 1 January 2018. The indexation allowance will be calculated using the Retail Price Index factor for December 2017 irrespective of the date of disposal of the asset.
Planning of disposals
Consideration should be given to the timing of any chargeable disposals to ensure advantage is taken where possible of minimising the tax liability at small profits rate rather than full rate. This could be achieved (depending on the circumstances) by accelerating or delaying sales. The availability of losses or the feasibility of rollover relief (see below) should also be considered.
Purchase of new assets
It may be possible to avoid a capital gain being charged to tax if the sale proceeds are reinvested in a replacement asset.
The replacement asset must be acquired in the four year period beginning one year before the disposal, and only certain trading tangible assets qualify for relief.
How we can help
Tax savings can only be achieved if an appropriate course of action is planned in advance. It is therefore vital that professional advice is sought at an early stage. We would welcome the chance to tailor a plan to your specific circumstances. Please do not hesitate to contact us.
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